The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday if it is required to continue the Trump-era policy that mandates asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border wait in Mexico until their cases are heard.
Established by the Trump administration in January 2019, the "Remain in Mexico" policy, or Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), returned migrants to Mexico to await asylum hearings instead of keeping them in the United States.
The Trump administration presented the policy at the time as an important part of its efforts to end "catch-and-release" and stem the flow of illegal immigration. Critics of the policy claim the policy was cruel and put migrants at risk of violence and exploitation in Mexico.
President Biden campaigned against the MPP and tried to get rid of it following his inauguration, but his attempts were blocked by a federal court after Texas and Missouri sued.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo to formally end the program in October, and DHS stressed to reporters at the time its view "that MPP has endemic flaws, imposed unjustifiable human costs, pulled resources and personnel away from other priority efforts, and failed to address the root causes of irregular migration."
Earlier this month, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that MPP had to be reinstated and that the DHS memo had no legal effect.
In its Wednesday petition, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to clarify whether it must continue to implement the policy and whether the appeals court erred when it concluded the memo had no legal effect.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.